I know, the very word ‘ROUTINE’ sounds dull and boring.’ I am a carefree spirit’, you say, ’a creative, I don’t do routines’. Or similar. But the fact is that we all have routines, whatever we choose to call them. Most people generally get up at the same time each morning, eat breakfast, wash their teeth, catch the bus or train etc. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a routine.
When you are busy, it can be easy to forget things in the morning rush or the evening exhaustion. That’s when routines come in to save your sanity. Following them each day will give you peace of mind and take some of the stress out of the everyday. They can make the difference between making dinner because you have defrosted the chicken and getting yet another take-away with all the expense and guilt. And they can help you keep your home on the right side of clean.
So, how to get started?
- First of all, grab a couple or three sheets of paper and a pen or pencil. I always find good old pen and paper work best for planning as you can cross out and rewrite easily. Using a different piece of paper for each routine, label them Morning, Afternoon, Evening. If you never have an afternoon at home, then just leave it out.
- You can start with either the Morning or the Evening. Start with the Morning and write down everything you currently do at that time, from getting dressed to leaving the house. My morning routine includes making packed lunches, checking what’s for dinner in case I need to defrost anything, putting on the washing machine as required, and washing up the breakfast things.
- Once you have everything you currently do, add in the things you know you ought to do but often forget such as putting on the washing machine or unloading the dishwasher. That might be something like ‘Put daughter’s snack and drink in book bag’. When my daughter was at primary school, the pupils had to take in a snack and drink and if I didn’t put the ‘Put in bag’ bit on my routine, it would be the kind of thing I would forget to do until we were going out to the car. I would then have to rush back inside, adding to school run stress.
- Now do the same for the Afternoon and Evening. The Evening routine is really important as a good evening routine will set you up for a less stressful morning. For example, my Evening routine includes checking what’s for dinner the next day so that I can defrost any meat or fish required overnight in the fridge rather than desperately soaking it in hot water just as I am about to start dinner – oops! If you add clearing up the kitchen after dinner, the following morning you will come down to a nice clean and clutter-free kitchen. Putting out younger children’s school uniform ready for the next day means you have time to quickly wash a shirt or socks if they have run out.
- Remember, these are your routines and no-one else’s so they must work for you. If the idea of creating one is sending you running for chocolate and a lie-down, make them really simple to start with. You can build on them as you go. Here are some examples to get you started.
Simple routine – Evening
Clean kitchen sink and sweep floor
Lunch bags out ready to pack in the morning
Set out school uniforms
Check diary for appointments, school activities etc
Check what’s for dinner tomorrow – defrost?
Anything I can do now to make tomorrow easier?
Simple routine – morning
Pack lunch for children and put by front door/in bags
Breakfast for all
Put breakfast cutlery and crockery in dishwasher
Load of washing in machine on timer (to finish when I am home)
Simple routine – afternoon
Unpack and clean lunch bags
Check homework plan
Snack and drink for all
Homework to be started
Dinner prep if required
Check diary in case anything needed for eg school trip
- Write up your routines – in whichever way you like. I usually create mine in Word using a large font size. When the children were younger I used to add in a column so that I could tick as I went along – the routine was in a plastic folder and I used a washable felt tip. But once you have practised your routines for a bit, they become automatic and it is difficult to remember that you once had to write it all down.
- Put them somewhere you will see them! – this is the most important. I file my routines in an A4 folder which I leave open at the next page I will need. Other ideas are to print out and stick on the fridge, put them out on a kitchen worktop where you are bound to see them or keep them near your house diary. Your life will get easier if you follow them, I promise!